ce·​ler·​i·​ty sə-ˈler-ə-tē How to pronounce celerity (audio)
: rapidity of motion or action
Celerity of movement is vital in war.

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Celerity hasn’t acted with much expressive celerity since its entry into English in the 1400s: it refers now as it did centuries ago to swiftness of motion or action. Its source (by way of Middle French) is the Latin adjective celer (“swift” or “speedy”), a word from which we also get accelerate, and there is some evidence of a trace of equine celerity in its deeper history: celer may go back to an Indo-European word that is the ultimate source of a Greek word meaning “swift horse” or “charger.” We know what you're thinking: whoa.

Example Sentences

a journalist who writes his well-crafted stories with remarkable celerity
Recent Examples on the Web Electrons in solids tend to bump into atoms instead of moving uninterrupted, so being able to control them with such celerity was crucial for the team to carry out its Peter-Pan-and-his-shadow manipulation of the electron and the hole. Karmela Padavic-callaghan, Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2021 The list goes on, but the difference between now and centuries ago is the frequency and celerity with which materials move between continents and the increasing intensity of climate change. Claire Marie Porter, WIRED, 2 Aug. 2019 People solve mysteries and puzzles with shocking celerity. Daniel Payne, National Review, 20 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'celerity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English celerite, borrowed from Anglo-French celeritee, borrowed from Latin celeritāt-, celeritās from celer "swift, speedy" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at accelerate

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of celerity was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near celerity

Cite this Entry

“Celerity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celerity. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


ce·​ler·​i·​ty sə-ˈler-ət-ē How to pronounce celerity (audio)
plural celerities
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